How to Help Children Prepare for their First Exams

Students in the U.S. start sitting for tests early, with Reuters reporting that children as young as five are given tests to determine whether or not they are on track academically. It can be stressful for kids and parents alike, but because children are so young, it is important to see tests as no more than a means of discovering if more support is needed in a specific subject. The role of parents is to build their children’s confidence and help and support them though all academic challenges - from their first poster project right through to their college entry exams. One of the most important skills they can teach them from the earliest of ages - is how to keep their calm during exam time and to see tests as a simple way to show how much they have learned throughout the year.

The Importance of Time Management

What do the world’s top CEOs and successful students have in common? They are aces at time management. When kids have an exam, they should divide the number of units, pages, or subjects they need to learn  into a specific number of days. Children should stick to this study schedule, leaving a few days close to the exam simply to review all the material. By scheduling their learning, kids can enjoy fuller, more enjoyable days. Cramming has been found to negatively affect academic results, so from the very start, kids should leave due time to learn and memorize content calmly and in good time. They should also divide their day into study and leisure, understanding that their life should always contain a good balance of work and pleasure activities.

Exercise and Diet are Key

Keeping kids active and ensuring they eat healthy foods during exam time are also important. Daily exercise is important because it helps children sleep better at night, thus boosting their memory and focus in class. A sound, Mediterranean-style diet that is rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids (found in wild salmon, tuna, and extra-virgin olive oil) will help keep their brain healthy. If any adults in the home are also studying for exams or simply facing a tough challenge at work, natural supplements like bacopa monnieri can help enhance memory, owing to its potent quotient of antioxidants. For children, it is probably best to stick to natural foods, particularly those which are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These foods can give them the energy and vitality they need to weather long days at school.

Stress Should be Battled Proactively

Stress is always a little higher for kids when they have an exam the next day or when they are preparing for a math or English test. This is precisely why when tension hits, kids should already have a series of stress busting techniques they can lean on when they notice they are tense. Kids need to be in tune to signs that the ‘fight or flight’ response is kicking in. They should notice that they may breathe a little faster, feel their heart beating faster, or feel a little faint. Show them how to combat these symptoms with controlled breathing. Download an app like Calm or Breathe. The latter has very handy five-minute controlled breathing sessions that you can all practice together in the car or at bedtime. Ask your child to notice how, once they start breathing in a controlled fashion, their heart rate almost immediately becomes slower. 

To ensure that your children do not stress out about exams, let them know that tests are nothing more than a chance to share what they know on paper. Teach them the essentials of time management from the time they are little, so they do not waste time and end up studying indoors more than they actually need to. Keep stress and anxiety at bay by embracing proven activities such as breathing, meditation, or yoga. These are skills your child will find useful for the rest of their lives, especially when work life gets stressful.